What the Winter Olympics Can Teach You About Writing

I love the Winter Olympics. It’s full of inspiring stories of coming from behind and underdog wins that seem to happen mostly during the Winter Olympics.

It’s not who’s the raining champion or the best in the field that necessarily wins. It’s who’s best on the day. The three athletes who’ve mastered both their event and mindset walk away with a medal.

Take for example Spanish figure skater, Javier Fernandez. Going into Pyeongchang 2018, he had one simple goal. To bring home an Olympic medal in figure skating for his country because it had never been done.

Fernandez had 7 titles under his belt already and came fourth at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. At 26 years of age, Pyeongchang would likely be his last chance at an Olympic medal. Hard work and determination saw him walk away with bronze – after he was pipped at the post for silver by the last skater, Shoma Uno.

Another amazing story is the come from behind win of Czech Alpine Skier, Ester Ledecka. Better known as a snowboarder, Ledecka was sitting in 26th position going into the Super-G final.

Despite making 2 errors, Ledecka stunned the world and herself by beating Austria’s Anna Veith by 0.01 seconds to take gold.

These stories aren’t uncommon in the Pyeongchang 2018 Games, and its only day 9:

  • Germany’s Arnd Peiffer won gold in the Men’s Biathlon 10km Sprint when two of the favorites received penalties.
  • Norway’s Simen Hegstad Krueger recovered from a crash at the start to take gold in the Men’s Cross-Country Skiing.
  • Perrine Laffont of France beat Canada’s defending Olympic champion Justine Dufour-Lapointe by nine-hundredths of a point in the Women’s Moguls Freestyle Skiing.
  • Austria’s David Gleirscher took gold in the Men’s Luge Singles after capitalizing on an error by defending Olympic champion Felix Loch of Germany.
How can These Success Stories Help you as a writer?

All these athletes have demonstrated three things to get them where they are now:

  1. Preparation
  2. Mindset
  3. Awareness

You can also apply these your writing.


These are the actions you take that lead you towards your desired outcome. Choose your event and stick to it. Focus on one thing at a time. Learn everything you can about your event to give yourself the best chance of success.

Do you want to write fiction or non-fiction? What genre or category do you want to write in? What are the industry standards for this genre or category? When is your peak writing time – morning or evening? What skills and knowledge do you currently have that supports your writing? What gaps do you need to fill? Who your writing heroes? What timeframe are you working with?

Once you have answered these questions, you can now create your course of action and start building habits to support it.


These are the habits and beliefs needed to help you reach that desired outcome. They can be either limiting or empowering.

A habit is something you repeatedly do until it becomes automatic. This can be limiting, as in the case of laziness, procrastination or addiction. Or they can be empowering and propel you forward as in the case of training, learning and personal growth.

Beliefs are things you believe to be true. We’ll get to limiting beliefs shortly. To experience an empowering belief, step into the shoes of an Olympic medal-winning athlete for a moment and borrow their visualization techniques. Allow yourself to dream big.

See your goal in full sensory detail as if you’ve just achieved it. How do you feel? What can you see, taste, smell and hear? Hold that for a moment and bask in the glory.

Now let reality in. What negative thoughts creep in about why can’t you achieve your goal? Write down everything that comes up. It might be hard to read, and you may not like it, but it’s a necessary step.

These are your limiting beliefs and will stop you from achieving what you want as long as they remain hidden.

Limiting beliefs are nothing more than opinions you’ve come to believe to be true. What makes them so convincing is there’s often a kernel of truth in them masquerading as the whole truth. They usually come in the form of:

  • I’m not __________ enough.
  • I don’t have _________.
  • I can’t _______.

The important thing to remember is that even though they may have been true or partly true at one time, you no longer have to settle for them now. You can reject them, or replace them with something more supportive. Michael Hyatt’s book Your Best Year Ever can help with this.  

Writing your beliefs down externalizes them, freeing you up to evaluate each one honestly. Then you can decide if they help you to achieve your goal, or hinder you.

If it hinders you, rephrase your belief in the positive, usually the opposite your limiting belief. Michael Hyatt calls this a liberating truth. For example, “I can’t write” (limiting belief) becomes “I can write” (liberating truth).

Now look for examples to support this new truth. Using the case above, “I can write,” you could think about all the times and places you do in fact write – at work, in emails, social media posts, shopping lists, reports, notes, etc.

That’s how athletes win Olympic medals. They start living their liberating truth as if it’s true, all the while building up evidence to support it until it’s aligned with their expectations.


The job of a medal-winning Olympic athlete is to run their own race the best they can, no matter what’s going on around them. They’ve done the preparation and believe they can win. The last piece of the puzzle is awareness.

This is being open to the opportunities that present themselves. It could be an off day for a defending champion, a change in conditions, or a split-second error in judgment. Whatever it may be, they’re ready to capitalize on it to propel their own race forward.

You can do the same with your writing.

Is there something happening in the world that ties into what you’re writing? Are there any applicable trending hashtags you can use? Can you comment on a topic in the media you’re passionate and knowledgeable about? Is there an event or another launch that aligns with your book?

Be creative and think outside the box. It may open doors to new audiences or opportunities you never thought possible. Share your thoughts below

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